Likes and Skills

Likes and Skills


Another important aspect of self-awareness is recognizing the things that you like and dislike about a job. A clear understanding of your likes and dislikes will help you identify priorities for your ideal job.

Many factors influence our likes and dislikes. Individual role models such as parents, bosses, teachers and friends may sway job decisions. Major work achievements can identify personal skills and clarify the aspects of our jobs that make us happy.

This brief activity will help you identify what you like and dislike about key aspects of your work.

Ingrid Bergman once said:

“Happiness lies in good health and a bad MEMORY”

Activity: Likes and Dislikes

If you are ready to make a career move, it’s worth looking back at previous jobs you’ve had before deciding on your next move. Think carefully about the factors you have liked and disliked in your current and/or most recent positions. If you are a student or newly qualified, think about each of your placements.

  1. List what you liked and disliked about the role and work.
  2. List what you liked and disliked about the employer.
  3. List what you liked and disliked about the environment.
  4. List what you liked and disliked about the terms and conditions.

Mary: A Case Study

Mary has worked as a senior staff nurse in a busy cardiology and coronary care unit for the past three years. She feels she’s in a rut and is ready for a change. She finds the specialty fascinating but shift work very tiring, and isn’t sure what direction to take.

By completing the likes and dislikes exercise Mary identified the following:

Role and work


  • lots of variety
  • client group
  • subject – cardiology
  • teaching
  • opportunity to use technical expertise
  • supporting and educating patient’s family, caregivers
  • health promotion


  • people management
  • not enough time spent with patients



  • commitment to staff development


  • high staff turnover, vacancy rate



  • friendly team
  • modern unit
  • supportive manager


  • too physically demanding
  • dependence on agency, temporary staff

Terms and conditions


  • generous benefits


  • scheduling – hates night shifts

Mary concluded that priorities for her ideal job included:

  • remaining in the cardiology field;
  • flexible scheduling;
  • more time spent with patients;
  • being able to maintain clinical expertise;
  • more opportunity to teach; and
  • good job benefits and working conditions.

This led her to explore roles in health promotion, community health, specialist work, lecturer opportunities and working for a charity or the pharmaceutical industry.


Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech on becoming president of South Africa said:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be?"

To plan your career, identify learning needs and sell yourself to prospective employers, you need to know what you are good at and which skills need developing. Transferable skills are those that are portable between nursing jobs, tasks and different contexts.

Examples include:

  • assessing, planning and evaluating care
  • problem-solving
  • teamwork
  • time management
  • managing and organizing
  • communication
  • educating others
  • health promotion
  • leadership
  • collaborating with other professionals
  • research information
  • risk management.

Some health-care employers have developed a competency system to help nurses to measure their level of expertise in areas relevant to their practice. Competency systems can include the factors listed above.

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.

Activity: Work Skills Inventory

You might want to consider your work skills as they relate to the five main categories identified in research:

  • Wage work — money paid for time given.
  • Fee work — money paid for results delivered.
  • Work done at home — tasks done in the home.
  • Gift work— work done for free outside the home.
  • Study work — training for sport, skills, continuing education, learning a new language, etc.

The important point about each of these categories is that each is valuable and requires particular, possibly different, skill sets. If we view work as simply paid employment we are missing some of our own unique potential that we could potentially demonstrate to others. A classic example would be the nurse who has taken time out of professional practice to raise her family and now feels like she has fewer competencies. While some of her clinical knowledge may be outdated, raising children requires many skills such as:

  • time management
  • negotiation and diplomacy
  • budgeting
  • health and hygiene.

Once you’ve considered the competencies you developed through different roles, think about specific skills you have. Next, you might do a work skills inventory to highlight strengths and weaknesses.

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned